Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5 Watchman Nee Quotes on Prayer

How we need the Lord to enlighten our eyes that we may comprehend afresh the importance of prayer and know anew its value. Furthermore, we must recognize that had Satan not deceived us we would not be neglecting prayer so much. We should therefore watch and discover therein all the various wiles of Satan. We will not allow him to delude us any more in relaxing in prayer.

Prayer is the acid test of the inner man’s strength. A strong spirit is capable of praying much and praying with all perseverance until the answer comes. A weak one grows weary and fainthearted in the maintenance of praying.

Prayer enables us first inwardly to overcome the enemy and then outwardly to deal with him.

We should not open our mouths too hastily upon approaching God. On the contrary, we first must ask God to show us what and how to pray before we make our request known to Him. Have we not consumed a great deal of time in the past asking for what we wanted? Why not now ask for what God wants?

Prayer is work. The experiences of many children of God demonstrate that it accomplishes far more than does any other form of work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

God's Word is Sure and Full of Wisdom

“The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;”

As we continue in our study of the Word of the Lord through Psalm 19:7-11, let us look at this precious line from verse 7.

God's Word is Sure

The Lord has borne witness to many things--His creation, for example. He has laid down an account of these things in His Word for us. And we can know that it is sure. It is correct; it is infallible. God has borne testimony against sin; he has testified of our fall and our restoration. And it is sure.

The Hebrew for this word "sure" means “to be established, be faithful, be carried, make firm.” And certainly that is what the Word of the Lord is. We have no reason to doubt, but can rather stake our entire lives on these truths; they will never fail us.

I like what Charles Spurgeon has to say about this topic:

"God's witness in his Word is so sure that we may draw solid comfort from it both for time and eternity, and so sure that no attacks made upon it, however fierce or subtle, can ever weaken its force. What a blessing that in a world of uncertainties we have something sure to rest upon! We hasten from the quicksands of human speculation to the terra firma of Divine Revelation."

God's Word Gives Wisdom

And this sure Word contains within its pages such knowledge and wisdom that even those who are babes might be made wise. It contains gems of truth that even a young one can understand. And through that understanding, they grow to be among the wisest of all. Again I like what Spurgeon says: "Humble, candid, teachable minds receive the word, and are made wise unto salvation. Things hidden from the wise and prudent are revealed unto babes. The persuadable grow wise, but the cavillers continue fools." Those who approach the word humbly and with a teachable spirit can learn the truths that will make them wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

When God's testimonies are our meditation and when we study His words, we gain wisdom that is greater than all earthly teachers, no matter how "smart" or good at learning we think we are!

"I have more understanding than all my teachers,For Your testimonies are my meditation.I understand more than the ancients,Because I keep Your precepts." ~Psalm 119:99-100

Isn't that such an encouraging thought though? God's Words can make you and I wise! They can give us the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding we need to navigate this crazy life.  

"But what is so amazing about wisdom?" you may ask.  

Solomon gives the answer so much better than I ever could:

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,   and the one who gets understanding,for the gain from her is better than gain from silver   and her profit better than gold.She is more precious than jewels,   and nothing you desire can compare with her.Long life is in her right hand;   in her left hand are riches and honor.Her ways are ways of pleasantness,   and all her paths are peace.She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;   those who hold her fast are called blessed." ~Proverbs 3:13-18

God's Word imparts this precious and life-giving gem called wisdom.

Psalm 119:130 reminds us, "The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple."

Do we value God's Word for what it is --> faithful and dripping with wisdom?  Do we approach God's Word every morning seeking to learn from it's pages how we might live out our lives?  Do we recognize the surety and firmness of God's Word?  Do we live in light of this understanding?

May this new understanding of God's Word cause you to run closer to it that you may gain the wisdom from its pages.  It will never falter or fail. None of its words will return back void.

Monday, March 21, 2016

God's Word is Perfect and Powerful

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” ~Psalm 19:7a

Today let us look at this phrase from Psalm 19:7-11 as we study the beautiful passage. May the things we study move beyond mere head knowledge into heart knowledge. Let us together worship our gracious and merciful Savior Who has written us our own special love letter.

It is Perfect

God's Word is the instruction and direction of God. It is His holy order and rulebook. This law is perfect. There is no flaw within its pages, no contradiction to stain its words, no gap to hinder its holiness. 

This word "perfect" in the Hebrew means, "complete, whole, entire, sound; without blemish." Just think; if the law of Moses which David refers to is perfectly perfect in the greatest sense of the word, how much more so is the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation! 

These words, in their entirety, are complete. Nothing can be added; nothing subtracted. They completely share the message of the gospel of hope. They completely reveal the love of God and the mercy of Christ. Nothing could make it more whole and sound. It is, in every sense of the word, perfect.

It is Powerful To Bring Others to Him

It, God’s Word, is the one which accomplishes the work of converting souls. We try to come up with our own fancy speeches with illustrations, allusions, and other things to entice a crowd. We spend hours developing our own methods for evangelism. 

 Yet, the most effective tool for spreading the news of the gospel, is the gospel itself! The very Word of God! God’s Word has gone forth from His mouth and will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). It is living and active; it has the power to pierce hearts with its message (Hebrews 4:12). 

Think of the wisdom and power of God's Word if it has the ability to convert our souls.  With such a powerful tool, we have no need of anything else. It is God’s Word itself, not man’s commentary on God’s Word that will save. Keep this principle in mind as you speak with others (believers or non). Sharing the Word itself is more valuable than lecturing or exhorting with your own speech.  

It is Powerful in Our Own Lives

The Hebrew word "convert" means "to turn back; to bring back."  This isn't merely something that happens when  we become a Christian!  Our hearts (mind in particular) needs to be turned back to the Lord every day!  My mind and emotions can so easily be swayed by the things of the earth. There are so many things that grab my attention and pull me away from the King of kings.  

I need God's Word to bring me back to Him everyday!

And that's exactly what He has promised to do through His Word.  After all, He declares that His Word has the power to convert the soul.  However, He warns us, "Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you" (Psalm 32:9).  When we come to His Word with an approachable and teachable heart, it will accomplish that which the Lord sent it out to do.  Psalm 119:9 speaks of this same concept: "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word."

Let us take time each morning to dig deep into the Word of God.  After all, it is perfect!  And it has the power to turn our hearts back to Him each and every day.  Let us also remember that the gospel message, spoken by our Savior Himself, has the perfect power to change souls.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Psalm 19:7-11

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward."
~Psalm 19:7-11

We're going to begin a series of articles on this beautiful passage.  It's important to meditate on God's Word, and that is what we plan to do over the next few posts.  For now, take some time to meditate on these verses yourself. What do they mean?  Allow the truth of God's Word to soak into your heart and change the value you place on the Scriptures.  More to be desired are they than gold!

Pray that the Lord would open our eyes as we study His Word.  Let us seek His face together, knowing that in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Come and Be Satisfied

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live..."
~Isaiah 55:1-3

These three verses have been on my heart and mind today.  When I read them this morning for my daily Bible time, the Lord convicted my own heart that I often spend my time and sometimes even money for things that do not satisfy, instead of coming to drink at the river of life.

This "wine" and "milk" costs no money.  We do not have to do anything to earn it. We must simply preform two things 1) thirst, and 2) come.  The first is merely to acknowledge our weakness, our need for Him.  The second is, for some, harder. We must actually set down that time waster and come to seek His face.

And when we do, when we come to the waters and eat what is good, our soul will delight itself in abundance.

What is this food and drink talked of here?

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit being like water: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given,because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).

Jesus also speaks of Himself as the bread of life: 

"For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always." 
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. ~John 6:33-35

Other verses in the Psalms too speak of God satisfying us through Himself:

Psalm 36:8 -- “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You [O Lord] give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.”

Psalm 103:5 -- “[God] Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

Psalm 16:11 -- “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

God offers to satisfy us if we will come to Him.

But what does this look like on a practical level?

First, we must leave all else behind to follow Him. We must no longer spend our wages (our time and our talents) for that which is not bread. Anything besides the Lord Jesus will not satisfy us. Examine the way you spend your time. Is it in doing things that will bear eternal spiritual fruit? Or do you whittle away time on social media, phones, or the television? Do you spend hours reading fictional novels, or doing pretty much nothing with friends all day. Walk away from these things and choose to come to Jesus.

Second, come to Him!  Spend time in His Word. We cannot spend a few minutes each day in God's Word and except to be completely satisfied for the entire day. Your physical body requires that you feed it three or more times a day! It is not satisfied with one quick, five minute feeding. Such is the case in our spiritual lives as well. God's Word is our food (Matthew 4:4) and we must spend time in God's presence (through His Word) to gain a fuller picture of Who He is. When we do, we will experience the joy that is found in His presence!
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live..."
~Isaiah 55:1-3

Monday, March 14, 2016

What a Friend!

I have been meditating on this hymn lately and I encourage you to ponder its words with me:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

I plan to write it out and paste it on the wall of my prayer closet as a reminder when I am in need, when I face trails and temptations, when I am cumbered with a load of care.  He is our refuge and He is our shield!  Can we find a Friend so faithful, Who will share in all our sorrows?  Oh, what a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege we have to carry everything to Him in prayer.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Pray About It

This is the question that has been on my heart lately as I see so many of the world's evils.  It's so easy to discuss why we think this should happen, or that should happen. Likewise it is so effortless to complain of the shortcomings of others or the troubles that plague our lives.  But how much do we pray about these things?

What if we took all that talk and turned it into something that made a difference?  What would happen if we prayed about the things we dislike about such and such a ministry, or government leader, or sibling--whatever!  I wonder what would happen...  Certainly it would help more than merely talk.  So I challenge myself--and you-- instead of merely talking about it, to pray about it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Antidote for Worry


This is something that as Christians we know we shouldn't do, but somehow it just slips in to our lives.  It creeps in unnoticed.  Of course, we have worry under control in most areas.  But there seem to be a few areas that worry is still allowed to dwell uncontested.

For some, it may be the upcoming election and the plight of our country.  For others, their choice of college and a marriage partner.  Or maybe it's something smaller like a college test or a job interview.

In the business of life, these areas of worry are sometimes left unnoticed.  I encourage you to pause right now and identify an area of worry in your own heart.  Be honest with yourself.  I know that you know that worry is wrong and you don't like to see it's presence in your life, but identify it nonetheless. This is the first step in removing it from your heart.

Now that you have identified that area of worry, remember His promises. Remember Who He is.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" ~Matthew 5:25-30

Our God has not left us alone.  He will not abandon us and has not abandoned us, no matter how bleak and impossible the situation seems.

Of all people, the Israelites certianly had some justification in their worry while they were captured in Babylon.  They were God's people, living in the midst of a barbarous nation, far from the land the Lord had promised to give them.  Listen to this passage from Isaiah 40.  You may have heard it before, but read it with new eyes, in light of your own area of worry:

"Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
'My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God'?
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength."
~Isaiah 40:27-29

The Jews were worried that their way was hidden from the Lord. And Isaiah reminded them that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of heaven and earth.  His understanding is unsearchable. What reassuring reminders about the character of God!

When you're worried, remember Who God is.

He is greater than anything you could ever face in this life. And He is on your side! He is fighting for you! It is He Who has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  And He will always, always keep His promises.

Instead of worrying, pray.

Finally, when you are tempted to worry about your life or the state of our nation, pray.  

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7

 Let your requests be made known to God and allow His peace to sweep over you as you remember Who He is.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Guard Your Time With the Lord

“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." ~Deuteronomy 13:6-10

I know you are probably wondering what the passage above is doing in this blog.  I read chapter 13 of Deuteronomy this morning in my time with the Lord, and was struck by this command of the Lord.  The Israelites were to utterly destroy anyone or anything that enticed them away from the Lord.

I began to wonder how this passage might apply to my own life.  Did I guard my own time with the Lord as vigilantly as the Lord commanded the Israelites to do?  Do I immediately destroy every trace of the excuses that would distract me away from His presence?

This reminds me of a story told about John Wesley. He had been invited to spend an evening with Lord Byron, the most powerful man in England. It was a great honor to be invited, as people would wait months and months to get an audience with this man.  As soon as dinner was over, the preacher rose from his chair to leave. His host looked at him in surprise. “Don’t you know that men all over this country wish to gain an audience with me? Why are you leaving so soon?”

John Wesley's simple reply was this: "I don't mean to offend you sir, and feel very honored for this time together. But I have an appointment with the King of the universe now, and I dare not be tired and I dare not be late."

Are we this careful to guard our time with the Lord?

For some of us, the distraction or enticement doesn't come from the outside, but from within.  Our flesh can so easily get in the way. Do we guard our time with the Lord--from our flesh?

Corrie ten Boom said, “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord, and keep it!”

There are so many distractions.  So many excuses.  So many reasons why we don't get around to spending time with Him.

We know in our hearts the value of spending time with God. We've seen it bear fruit in our own lives. Let us guard this time with a valiantly known to the knights of old.  May no one ever be able to entice us away from the Lord our God who gave His life to take us out of the house of bondage and into the land of freedom.